News: H-1 upgrade puts 469 in the fight
Story by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The last Marine Light Attack Helicopter squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, HMLA 469, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, received its first UH-1Y helicopter April 1, as part of the Marine Corps’ H-1 upgrade program.
The upgrade will allow HMLA 469 to more effectively execute its mission of providing offensive air support, utility support, armed escort and airborne supporting arms coordination.
“It’s a huge improvement for us,” said Capt. Patrick J. Sise, a UH-1Y Pilot with HMLA 469 who was part of the MAG 39 H-1 upgrade Tactical Training Unit. “It’s got a variety of improvements over the UH-1N Huey.”
The most significant change is the increase in load the helicopter can lift, said Sise. The UH-1Y helicopter is capable of lifting about 2,500 more pounds than the UH-1N helicopter after fully loading the helicopter with fuel, personnel and ordnance.
“We don’t have to worry about weight issues,” said Cpl. Benjamin L. Hebert, a helicopter crew chief assigned to HMLA 469. “With the old UH-1N helicopter you had to balance what you can carry between personnel, ordnance and fuel.”
“In the current fight that we have it’s usually more time looking for somebody than it is time shooting,” said Sise. “So the more overhead coverage we can provide the better.”
Another advantage over the older aircraft is the capability to train faster, said Hebert. A group of five students and an instructor can be loaded into the aircraft with no weight issues vice two students at a time in the older aircraft.
The new generation of Marine mechanics also found it easier to understand the operating systems of the UH-1Y helicopter.
“It makes a lot more sense so it’s easier to get the concept,” said Hebert, 21, from Woodinville, Wash. “It’s completely new, so it’s exciting to learn about it.
“It’s a sigh of relief that we don’t have to maintain the UH-1N aircraft anymore,” said Hebert.
As the final squadron aboard Camp Pendleton to receive the new aircraft, the Marines of HMLA 469 were given opportunities to train with other squadrons that already had the experience necessary to transition between aircrafts.
According to information from the MAG 39 Tactical Training Unit, the UH-1N Huey is no longer being deployed to OEF.
The squadron is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in 2012 with the new aircraft.
“The UH-1Y is going to be able to keep us in the fight longer and goes much faster, so we can respond faster,” said Hebert. “It’s a little more real going to OEF.”